Saturday, April 23, 2011

Semiotics for preschoolers

Sitting in the sun on the deck.  The plum trees are blossoming.  Wren is assembling another deck from the out of legal magic the gathering cards.  The sky is all blue and the lawn is suddenly lush and overgrown. In the distance we can hear the drone of cars and lawnmowers.

Wren:  Mum, why do all those thing have different names?  Like CROW and TREE and PLATFORM and HOUSES and FORTS and SWINGS and that is all?

Me:  Why do you think?

Wren:  I think it is because things are look different so if a tree looked like a fort it would be a treeHOUSE.

Me: I think it is so we can tell people about things when we are not right next to them. Like, I can say "dragon" and you can think of it in your head even when you can't see one.

Wren:  But why different letters?  Like B-W-R-E?  I can't understand!

Me: That is so people can read the letters and know the name of something.

Wren:  Oh, so what does B-O spell?

Me: That spells "bow"

Wren:  I spelled "bow!"

Alex: Well, that is actually b-o-w! 

Me:  In linguistics they call the word the signifier and the thing it means is called the signified.  The signifier can change in different languages.  So, in Indonesian that thing is called a pohon?

Wren:  pohon pohon

Alex:  pohon pohon

Frost stands in the sun in silence, bending over an ipad and a calculator as he researches and adds the costs of all the proxy cards in Alex's new Take That magic the gathering deck.

"It is going to cost $22," he says, looking up.  Its cheap for a good deck!

Wren:  Argh... nobody is going to the car to get my Hedron Crab.  Why... AAAARRRRGHHHH!!!!!

Me:  Alex, are you going to get it?

Alex:  Maybe, when I am done lying in the sun.

Me:  Frost, will you?

Frost: Nyah.


Me:  I will get you candy if you go and get it.

Frost:  I am going to get it!

Alex:  No, I am coming....

They all run off.  I am left in peace but now must rise and get candy.  Thank god for the Easter Stash.  At our BBQ this week people were discussing what kind of multi-millionaire was crazy and what simply the natural amplification of eccentricity by wealth.  I would be a lazy billionaire.  Imagine what I could get people to do for me if I gave out golden easter eggs for acts of service.

Sitting here, with the sun so hot the rivets in my jeans are burning my hip, being crazy in the name of indolence doesn't sound so bad.

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